Openings & Closings: Of Pinkberry, Pollo Campero and Prego

All the big news is down south this week, starting with the big news from Galveston that two old favorites have reopened.

B4-U-Eat reports that The Diner will reopen for business on Monday, October 3, after being closed for nearly three years, one of Hurricane Ike's many victims on the island. And along with The Diner, Clary's has come back too.

Clary's was badly damaged by Ike in 2008, but was up and running again the following fall. However, the old restaurant suffered another devastating blow when it nearly burned down this past June. After a lot of hard work to repair the extensive damage, it's finally open once again. Says B4-U-Eat:

Clary Milburn tells us Clary's has reopened after the fire in June, but only Wed through Saturdays for dinner, 5-10pm. He says they have all their original menus and recipes, and he really appreciates all the phone calls of support during the repairs.

Houston is getting its very first Pinkberry after all these years (and a ton of other frozen yogurt places that have already established their own footholds in our market), but it's not quite in Houston. The area's first Pinkberry is opening in Webster this weekend at the Baybrook Passage shopping center, located at 19325 Gulf Freeway. A second Pinkberry is slated to open in the Galleria next year. But for now, Pinkberry fans will have to make their way south down I-45 for hand-cut fruit and organic gummy bears to go with their fro-yo.

Also opening next week in Webster is the area's first new-and-improved Pollo Campero at 702 West Bay Area Boulevard. Unlike the chicken shacks we know and love, the upgraded Pollo Camperos will feature an expanded selection of Latin favorites, from Cuban pork empanadas to Chilean tomato-cucumber salad. There will still be plenty of roasted and fried chicken, and prices will still be low, but the new restaurants have done away with the fast-food aesthetic in favor of earth tones and sleek lines -- and sangria. A second "new" Pollo Campero is planned for Washington Avenue, and a third for Missouri City.

Back in Houston proper, Midtown's brunch scene along West Gray will get a little more frenzied now that Double Cross Lounge has joined Farrago's, Cyclone Anaya's and CoCo's Crepes in offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. According to the press release, "the menu features a continental style breakfast, hot waffles, omelets, bloody marys, mimosas and more. Guests can view Saturday College Football and NFL Sunday Games on a large outdoor HD projector on a patio."

New menu items abound at Prego, too. The longtime favorite in Rice Village has now added a host of gluten-free items to its menu. "Most people don't think 'gluten-free' when it comes to Italian cuisine, so we wanted to highlight options for those adhering to this special diet," said Chef John Watt in a press release. "The menu includes a variety of special corn flour and potato flour pastas, seafood and meat dishes and, of course, dessert!" These new dishes include items like corn flour spaghetti with Gulf shrimp and corn and potato flour-crusted branzino.

Last but not least, the Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen is now open on Mondays, adding to the short list of truly awesome restaurants that are open on the Sunday of the food and beverage industry. Mondays will feature specials at the cozy pub, like a curry and a pint for $16, $4 draft beer of the day and a $5 wine of the day. Cocktails are only $7, too, making Monday the perfect time to try out the Queen Vic if you've always meant to go.

Note: In this week's Cafe Bites newsletter, the name of the new wine cellar opening at 7951 Katy Freeway was misstated as "Memorial Cellars." The correct name is Memorial Wine Cellar. We regret the error.

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